Motor vehicle traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for American teenagers 15 to 20 years of age. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has recently received a federal grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In an attempt to remain proactive and not reactive, the CHP introduces Start Smart to educate newly licensed and future licensed teenage drivers. The funds will be used for the Start Smart Teen Driver Safety Education Program and to develop and produce an effective media campaign targeting teen drivers 15 to 19 years of age.
The CHP’s goals are to help young drivers and their parents/guardians understand the responsibilities associated with driving a motor vehicle, show how a poor choice behind the wheel can change the lives of everyone involved and to reduce the number of teen-related injuries and deaths due to collisions. The top five primary collision factors for drivers 15-19 years of age are unsafe speed, failure to yield the right of way, following too close, inattention and cell phone use. The primary objective of the CHP’s Start Smart program is to provide teens and their parents/guardians with an interactive safe driving awareness class which will illustrate how poor choices behind the wheel of a car can affect the lives of numerous people. Start Smart also focuses on responsibilities of newly licensed drivers, responsibilities of parents/guardians and, collision avoidance techniques.
The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System reported teen drivers are found at fault in 66% of all FATAL collisions that they are involved in, although they only represent 4% of the state’s licensed drivers. CHP Area Offices statewide are participating in the Start Smart program. The Start Smart program is approximately 1 ½-2 hours long and is free of charge. Parents and teens interested in attending a Start Smart class at the Williams Area CHP Office, should contact Officer Kristen Murphy at (530)473-2821, Tuesday thru Friday. The Williams Area CHP Office has scheduled their next Start Smart class for January 30th, 2014 at 6:30 P.M.